POETRY IS LIKE TAKING A DEEP BREATH

Friday, 20 September 2013

DAWN REVISITED




Imagine you wake up
with a second chance; the blue jay
hawks his pretty wares
and the oak still stands, spreading
glorious shade. If you don’t look back,

the future never happens.
How good to rise in sunlight,
in the prodigal smell of biscuits -
eggs and sausage on the grill.
The whole sky is yours

to write on, blown open
to a blank page. Come on,
shake a leg! You’ll never know
who’s down there, frying those eggs,
if you don’t get up and see.


Rita Dove
1952

Rita Frances Dove is an American poet and author. From 1993-1995 she served as Poet Laureate Consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress.





Monday, 16 September 2013

HARLEM (2)





What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore -
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?



Langston Hughes
1902-1967

James Mercer Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form jazz poetry. Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance.



Wednesday, 4 September 2013

VIGIL





Life is too short to sleep through.
Stay up late, wait until the sea of traffic ebbs,
until noise has drained from the world
like blood from the cheeks of the full moon.
Everyone else around you has succumbed:
they lie like tranquillised pets on a vet's table;
they languish on hospital trolleys and friends' couches,
on iron beds in hostels for the homeless,
under feather duvets at tourist B&Bs.
The radio, devoid of listeners to confide in,
turns repetitious. You are your own voice-over.
You are alone in the bone-weary tower
of your bleary-eyed, blinking lighthouse,
watching the spillage of tide on the shingle inlet.
You are the single-minded one who hears
time shaking from the clock's fingertips
like drops, who watches its hands
chop years into diced seconds,
who knows that when the church bell
tolls at 2 or 3 it tolls unmistakably for you.
You are the sole hand on deck when
temperatures plummet and the hull
of an iceberg is jostling for prominence.
Your confidential number is the life-line
where the sedated long-distance voices
of despair hold out muzzily for an answer.
You are the emergency services' driver
ready to dive into action at the first
warning signs of birth or death.
You spot the crack in night's fa├žade
even before the red-eyed businessman
on look-out from his transatlantic seat.
You are the only reliable witness to when
the light is separated from the darkness,
who has learned to see the dark in its true
colours, who has not squandered your life.



Dennis O’Driscoll
1954-2012

Dennis O'Driscoll was an Irish poet, essayist, critic and editor. He was regarded by many as one of the best European poets of his time.


Friday, 30 August 2013

QUILTS




Like a fading piece of cloth
I am a failure.

No longer do I cover tables filled with food and laughter
My seams are frayed my hems falling my strength no longer able
To hold the hot and cold

I wish for those first days
When just woven I could keep water
From seeping through
Repelled stains with the tightness of my weave
Dazzled the sunlight with my 
Reflection

I grow old though pleased with my memories
The tasks I can no longer complete
Are balanced by the love of the tasks gone past

I offer no apology only 
this plea:

When I am frayed and strained and drizzle at the end
Please someone cut a square and put me in a quilt
That I might keep some child warm

And some old person with no one else to talk to
Will hear my whispers

And cuddle
near





Nikki Giovanni
1943-

Yolande Cornelia "Nikki" Giovanni Jr. is an American writer, commentator, activist, and educator. She is currently a distinguished professor of English at Virginia Tech.



Friday, 23 August 2013

END OF THE WORLD



The day the world ends
will be clean and orderly
like the notebook
of the best student in the class.
The town drunk
will sleep in a ditch,
the express train will pass
without stopping at the station
and the regimental band 
will endlessly practice
the march they have played in the square for twenty years.

Only some children
will leave their kites tangled
in telephone lines
to run home crying
not knowing what to tell their mothers
and I will carve my initials
in the bark of a linden tree
knowing that it won’t do any good.

The kids will play football
in the empty lot on the edge of town.
The holy sects will come out 
to sing on the street corners.
The crazy old woman will pass with her parasol.
And I will say to myself: “The world cannot end,
because here on the patio the pigeons and the sparrows
 are still squabbling over the grains."





Jorge Teillier
1935-1996

translated from the Spanish by Miller Williams


Friday, 16 August 2013

WITH A GREEN SCARF




With a green scarf I blindfolded 
the eyes of the trees
and asked them to catch me.

At once the trees caught me,
their leaves shaking with laughter.

I blindfolded the birds
with a scarf of clouds
and asked them to catch me.

The birds caught me
with a song.

Then with a smile I blindfolded
my sorrow
and the day after it caught me
with a love.

I blindfolded the sun
with my nights
and asked the sun to catch me.

I know where you are, the sun said,
just behind that time.
Don’t bother to hide any longer.

Don’t bother to hide any longer,
said all of them,
as well as all the feelings
I tried to blindfold.





Marin Sorescu
1936-1997

Translated from the Romanian by Michael Hamburger

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

AND WE LOVE LIFE




And we love life if we find a way to it.
We dance in between martyrs and raise a minaret for violet or palm trees.

We love life if we find a way to it.

And we steal from the silkworm a thread to build a sky and fence in this departure.
We open the garden gate for the jasmine to go out as a beautiful day on the streets.

We love life if we find a way to it.

And we plant, where we settle, some fast growing plants, and harvest the dead.
We play the flute like the colour of the faraway, sketch over the dirt corridor a neigh.
We write our names one stone at a time, O lightning make the night a bit clearer.

We love life if we find a way to it. . . . .




Mahmoud Darwish
1942-2008

translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah